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VOL. 39 | NO. 51 | Friday, December 18, 2015

US stocks waver in thin trading ahead of Christmas

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NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks were little changed in light trading Thursday as investors remained on the sidelines ahead of Christmas. The price of crude oil continued to recover.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average was down 19 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,583 as of 12:10 p.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was mostly unchanged at 2,065 and the Nasdaq composite up 12 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,058.

ON HOLIDAY: Christmas Eve is almost always the quietest trading day of year. U.S. markets will have an abbreviated trading session on Thursday, closing at 1 p.m. Eastern. U.S. markets will remained closed Friday for Christmas.

SANTA CAME EARLY: While stocks were slightly lower Thursday, U.S. markets posted solid gains heading into the Christmas holiday. The S&P 500 is up nearly 3 percent for the week. It is not uncommon for stocks to rally into the end of the year, as investors close their books and reposition themselves for the New Year.

"The Santa Claus rally got an early start," said Quincy Krosby, a market strategist with Prudential Financial, referring to the gains that historically happen between Christmas and New Year's Day. "If we can hold onto this, we will be setting up for a good January."

ENERGY: Oil prices continued to recover from lows earlier in the week. U.S. crude futures gained 46 cents to $37.96 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, was up 52 cents at $37.88.

Energy stocks didn't benefit from oil's climb. The energy component of the S&P 500 index was down 0.6 percent.

BOND DEAL: Bond insurer MBIA rose 51 cents, or 8 percent, to $6.75 after Puerto Rico's struggling electric power company reached a deal with its creditors. MBIA insured the bonds issued by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES: The dollar edged lower to 120.30 yen from 120.88 yen a day earlier. The euro rose slightly to $1.0961 from $1.0912. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note was unchanged at 2.25 percent.

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